Mother Battling Late Stage Melanoma After Doctors Ignore Her Concerns

| by Jonathan Wolfe

British Columbia mother Julia Wolfe is in the midst of a battle with late stage metastatic melanoma. As trying as cancer is for anyone who battles it, Wolfe’s case is exacerbated by the fact that she tried for years to get doctors to take a growth on her leg seriously.

Wolfe first saw a doctor at the age of 18 after a birthmark on her ankle became raised and itchy. As she waited in the office, she noticed an uncanny resemblance between the problematic patch on her ankle and the symptoms described on a skin cancer poster on the wall. The doctor told her not to worry about it, and to put some lotion on it.

Over the next several years, the mark grew and changed colors. She saw multiple doctors about it, but each told her she had nothing to worry about. It was not until years later when she became pregnant with her five-year-old son Lucas that she was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma.

Just as she suspected, the melanoma had spread from the itchy birthmark on her ankle.

“I was really failed by the medical system,” she told the Times Colonist. “…and now I have to fight for my own life.”

Her cancer has spread to her lungs, bones, liver, and kidneys. Doctors tell her she could have as few as eight weeks to live. Desperate for a treatment that could give her body a fighting chance, Wolfe headed to Toronto on Monday to participate in clinical trials for a new immuno-therapy drug. She hopes that the treatment will at least keep her alive long enough for other treatment breakthroughs to develop.

“Part of me hangs onto this hope that I can beat this and raise him myself,” she said, referring to her son Lucas. “I owe it to him.”

Though the clinical trial she is participating in is free, getting to Toronto and taking care of Lucas is not. To help cover her expenses, a friend set up this You Caring page where people can donate money to Julia and Lucas. To date, the site has raised over $20,000. 

Sources: Times Colonist, You Caring